Many have tried stereotyping our generation, the millennials, too lazy or social media orientated amongst many others.
But when 1,600 contemporaries of today’s youth are put in one place, representing 196 countries around the world and given focus then we’ll happily prove them wrong.
196 countries flags and flag bearers congregated before the opening ceremony (click to enlarge)
You’d be right to suggest that with these numbers you’d expect to find out where issues may be, and most would think there’d be huge differences in opinions. It may have been harder to find the delegates individual opinions, but the overwhelming feeling was that everyone due to conversations had been filled up with an energy and adrenaline that rarely left many looking or feeling left out. They were like-minded.
It’s clear from the latest One Young World, that whilst the issues outside of the summit may vary and be perpetuated by people from all ages or genders, background or races and belief sets, when young ‘leaders’ are put in an environment as unique as this, many of these issues with those attendees dissipate and are replaced by a clear and united focus. This common humanity isn’t just something that comes about because of One Young World, and those who attend are not the only ones who believe in their generation being one and the same.
We’re not naive, creating dialogue is the start and many barriers need to be broken down to get us to a global environment that replicates the focus, shared thought processes and tolerance of this group. If leaders pay attention though to the united front regarding this years COP21 Pledge for instance then they will see that we are happily unified and clearly focused on the tasks at hand. No decisions to better our environment can be taken too quickly. This support to the delegates if continued post summit and enabled in all areas of relevance will only help. But by being in dialogue we can openly see there is little that truely differentiates us that’s worth noting.
As Sneha Shah, an observer and Managing Director for Africa at Thomson Reuters stated clearly in her message to the company post summit;
‘One key takeaway from my experience at One Young World is not to tell this generation of professionals what to do, or ask them to work the way we have always done. All we need to do is unlock their energy and passion, provide guiding priorities and frameworks, and let them run. They can take us further than we can imagine.’
From representatives of not officially recognised states such as Kurdistan; to members of the LGBT community; to individuals from Afghanistan whom have family members or friends who have found themselves in ‘terrorist groups’, to those representing some of the worlds most substantial corporates, some of which as one delegate put it have “annual incomes bigger than some countries GDP’s” there have been few examples to suggest anything other than the core purpose and clear dialogue is what we will be standing up for. There is no reason we cannot all get on.
One of our Kurdish co-delegates this year.
This is simple, Leadership right now does not represent those who turned up to One Young World. If it did, decisions would be made faster.
‘Youth’ as is suggested to be represented, this year in Bangkok, has set out a clear message – collaboration and common humanity is what will drive our generation – social media and summits like One Young World amongst others have connected the millennials to the point that peace, respect, collaboration and sustainability are not only our buzzwords but our reality, even if it’s something we’ll have to still push a bit more than we’d ideally need to. Reaffirmation of beliefs previously left unchallenged or as simple beliefs up until now. We can no longer be divided by ego, the circumstance our generation finds ourselves in requires us to set aside these.
Implementing these in our working environments is step one, a vital step, the next will be to increase the awareness of our friends and those perhaps left without the sense of immediacy in which we need to tackle these problems. You need to challenge their beliefs.
Anything at a senior political level that doesn’t reflect this is misguided and an inaccurate representation of it’s people. Why? because as time continues, those under 30 will make up an increasingly larger portion of not only a countries and our global demographic but as is always the case, the direction and attitude by which they will develop.
Bob Geldof, may have stated at numerous summits previous that his generation have ‘f***ked up’ and in many ways this could be deemed to be true, but having developed or helped harness a generation adaptable in means and attitudes, with innovation and entrepreneurship as clear markers not only for our personal but professional development along with a questioning mindset has been one of their triumphs.
Now we need to move on to the honest understanding that violence is perpetuated only by violent people. Countries should and need to unite – Russia and the U.S spring to mind – and individuals, as well as organisations, should be held accountable. If leaders of today create the platforms with direction and purpose, or collaboration at it’s heart then that will be their biggest legacy. We, once enabled, will – I believe, make the rest work.
And so the challenge.
Those who attended or have attended previous summits need to remember the summit; they need to be able to revisit it again mentally at least if not physically and gain a source of inspiration when back to their 9-5’s; recharge their batteries and thought processes should they ever feel defeated or significantly apathetic – whilst those companies or ogranisations and individuals who have sponsored them need to make sure that the right mentorship and systems are in place to sustain this crowd and energy, with reassurances given that should any delegate come forward with a good idea, these will be listened to, encouraged and implemented.
Paul Polman is, according to many, pushing sustainable business and youth engagement in Unilever.
Organisations will need to go the extra nine yards too as most individuals despite the sponsorship will feel that as far as organisations go, in their head-space, realistically being given the reigns to make positive change may not be something they feel is genuinely obtainable.
Commitments need to be made by both parties to address – in a way which is in keeping with their organisations remit, either by CSR or general footprint – to tackle the issues to the very best they can. Recycling can no longer be a trend you acknowledge but don’t act upon daily.
I encourage Ambassadors (any delegate to have attended any summit) to engage with the community’s increasing diaspora within not only their country but globally. You may have left simply with friends to visit in far flung places, but I also encourage you to use one another as like-minded feedback ports. Bounce your enthusiasms, struggles or ideas off one another, you’ll be amazed at how they can sustain you, whilst also introducing you to the rest of the attendees you may not have had time to meet, but should have.
Express your opinions – become more vocal in your businesses and drive the things you know are wrong or aren’t fully committed to – engage with your organisations social arm, see how you can engage your department or team with your companies social purpose. One Young World, through Ambassador Jamal Kendell Campbell‘s work have an active podcast, engage with this and share your views, help increase it’s footprint and legitimacy as a tool that shares our generations opinions and that should be listened to.
Last but not least engage with your soon to be elected co-ordinating ambassador. The London hub has been very active for two years now due to our first two co-ordinating ambassadors and we have seen events take place at companies like PWC, Unilever, Twitter, Telefonica and more, whilst also hosting general socials – there’s a lot that can be gleaned from these events and the sustained networks. With a new co-ordinating ambassador soon to be given the go ahead (whom you can vote for), building on previous coordinating ambassadors work with existing foundations but more importantly a new take on the role, you will get another chance to help define the impact the community your friends can have. If your country is too big, then innovate around the model.
The 2015 Coordinating ambassadors who’re just about to hand on their work to new coordinators to add their own ideas to the platform that’s been built.
If you think you have the extra time, then consider even applying for a role as your regions co-ordinating ambassador too, the application process is due to open in the near future. Read more here
To have the best chance of sustained impact, you need to start thinking of how best to put yourself into environments that play off your interests, and turning up to these events, helping put on events around your interests – but that engage with the community – will all contribute.
Don’t forget, whilst the impetus may be structured around the idea of ‘doing something’ meaningful not only for yourself but for the world at large, you need to approach that thought process as one which relates to the fact you ‘do something’ daily in your job, and find a way to just transfer the thought processes around this as easily as possible. It may seem simple, and it can be, but you just need to remember that it’s the only thing, coupled with a bit of drive and collaboration that really separates you from everyone else.
Lastly but by no means least a message of thanks to the organisers, One Young World – Kate and David – I think everyone acknowledges and wants to thank you both. I have to and want to acknowledge personally the leadership you’ve shown in providing for the summit and putting it first, not only in your careers but personal life and really enabling it to grow which has been extremely commendable.
The summit in itself purely for the connections it makes and the introduction to issues that may not have been at the forefront of people’s thoughts previously is a big step in the right direction. But whilst it is an incredible platform it is important to acknowledge that, as is always the case, nothing that ever stands still goes anywhere substantial long term. Be open to constructive feedback from delegates. I know over the years you have. Let’s try and push the format.
Are there ways in which the content and direction of the summit can be improved upon? Can we get to more critical dialogue? (does this include helping companies realize that whilst we may have concerns about the way they do business – we’re open minded to them if they want to change and would actively encourage it).
Are there topics that have been missed that could really alter the approach we have to issues in a positive way? Resource management?
Can the use of an app or active twitter feed be utilised to ask questions to each other during the summit?
Can we create breakout sessions which focus on the hackathon model?
Can delegates who represent different issues and companies be selected to sit in groups of discussion? Can these be led by an individual mentor who leads the idea of collaboration between the two.
Can the summits aims be interlinked with creating impact in the host country/cities community?
Would it be beneficial for a councilor to give an address laying out the landscape of the issue before delegates go into their speeches?
Pearly – you have been a star in organising things and really helping lead the summit in Bangkok. I know it’s been one of the most full on roles for you, something which has not at all times been easy but I want to acknowledge the hard work you’ve put in to this. You really went above and beyond to pull it together and there was a clear step up in the organisation, from the standard of evening dinners and socials to the security and stage design. Thank you very much for all you’ve done.
My personal highlights:
Hussein Manawer‘s speech on Mental Health. ‘The problem is I care too much’.
Oscar‘s speech on inclusion for people with disabilities, which doesn’t seem to have been uploaded to youtube yet.
And, just in case the length of this may have lost you, Paul Polman‘s video from Richard Curtis
Getting things half done, doesn’t accomplish anything.
P.s. the buzz is far greater when you accomplish big things with other people.